I had a small discussion on facebook this morning, and I thought it was worth reposting here as a matter of record.
When Christ came to earth, He came to bring to mankind the gospel of the Kingdom. Over the centuries, the Church has tended to emphasize only a portion of the gospel. That portion is the gospel of salvation. However, Jesus came that we might have more than just salvation. He came to give us a whole new life that was accompanied by signs, wonders, and His Spirit living in us and revealing Himself to us daily. He came so that we might walk on this earth as He did. If our lives are not reflecting the same things as Jesus’ did, we must ask why?
I am seeing quite a bit of this kind of teaching. “For the longest time, the church has emphasized that the gospel means Jesus dying for our sins. How quaint! It might mean this, but it also means (pet idea goes here).” I have come to believe that it is right to emphasize that portion of the gospel, because it IS the gospel. There is no other portion. Paul didn’t say “I was determined to know nothing among you except the Holy Spirit and Him manifested.” He said “I was determined to know nothing among you except Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) He did not say “For I am not ashamed of the Holy Spirit, for it is the power of God for salvation…”, he said, “For I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL, for it is the power of God for salvation…” (Romans 1:16-17) The gospel is a saving message, and this is the message: “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” (Romans 3:24-25)
Romans 6 roots our sanctification wholly in this: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized INTO HIS DEATH, so that as Christ was raised from the dead we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
Jesus Himself taught that forgiveness is more important than the miraculous, and that physical miracles are only meant to corroborate the message of forgiveness, Luke 5:22-24. He also taught that those who based their ministry in works of miracles were likely bereft of knowledge of Him, Matthew 7:21-23. He desires compassion above all things, Matthew 9:13.
Romans 8 and Romans 12 are meaningless out of context with Romans 3 – Romans 5. Ephesians 4 – Ephesians 6 is meaningless apart from Ephesians 1 – Ephesians 3. 1 John 2 – 1 John 5 is meaningless apart from 1 John 1:5-10. You cannot even strip Jesus’ one commandment, that we love one another, of the context of 1 John 4:10, that love is grounded in the propitiation. If the gospel isn’t the propitiation, we have nothing. On the cross, He did not cry out, “it is begun!” He cried out, “It is FINISHED!” (John 19:30) How dare we change that or marginalize it!
This is not to say that we ought not pray for miracles, or expect the miraculous. However, these things are not the gospel. The precious blood of Christ spilled for us is the gospel, and as the writer of Hebrews says, “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3) We dare not marginalize it or add to it or change it.
You want to be zealous? Be determined to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified! When you start to see God as the One who is determined to redeem you and to grant you persistent overcoming one-way love, you will walk with such a sense of favor and compassion that miracles are surely inevitable. But do not be looking to become a person known for the miraculous. Become a person known for compassion and mercy, who is there for sinners. This is certainly walking as Jesus walked more than 1000 miracles.